Every Saturday morning Simon eats a bowl of porridge in the cafe in Cahir. Some mornings I join him for the porridge and some mornings I do not. The porridge is so slow to arrive that it makes me cross. I prefer to breakfast at home and have a walk down the river instead. Since the porridge is so painfully slow to arrive, he is usually not finished by the time I get there. I have a coffee. Every Saturday we see a couple who come in and always sit at the exact same table. They arrive with photocopied crossword puzzles. They work quietly and intensely on their crossword puzzles and then they switch pieces of paper. There is very little conversation. They eat and drink but they never stop working on their puzzles.
25 September Friday
Joe has put up new signs at each of his gates. The signs are white with printed black letters reading LANDS PRESERVED AND POISONED. Preserved means that the lands are off-limits for any kind of hunting. I never really understand what poisoned means in this context. I think there is law which says if poison is laid down on farm land it has to be a certain distance from a road so that dogs will not be killed by it. I do not know what kind of poison is being laid nor who the intended victims are. Usually there is just a hand written sign which gets made with whatever is available around the place. Joe’s signs are all new, all clear and easy to read and all very official looking. What they are not is friendly.
24 September Thursday
The tent is gone. I am not certain if this means that Tommy has been been re-housed. It might just mean that the recent nights of terrible torrential downpours were too much for him in his tent. I hope that he is warm and snug in a new home of his own in the village. There is nothing to show that anyone was ever there at all except for a slightly pale rectangle of flattened grass where his tent was.
23 September Wednesday
Thor was collected on Sunday on the way to the Honey Show. He has come to stay for a week. It is good to have a dog in the house again. It is good to have a dog to walk with. He is quite demanding about heading off first thing in the morning. He has met the local dogs and he enjoys the rushing and sniffing which they all do together. Each dog must sniff and pee and examine everything that the other dog has sniffed and peed upon. There is nothing new about this but since everything is new and exciting for the dogs, I find it is new and exciting for me too. Being with a dog is a reliable source of pleasure. Most days I go for several walks with Thor. He knows our routes now. He loves the Mass Path with the smell of foxes and pheasants. He just looks around to make sure that I am still with him when he is rushing off ahead. For an elderly deaf dog he has a lot of energy.
22 September Tuesday
We have decided to stop buying potatoes. We have decided to stop buying potatoes and to stop preparing potatoes. If we are served potatoes elsewhere we will eat them but we are tired of buying potatoes because we are tired of being disappointed by potatoes. I heard on the radio that the government is thinking to offer an incentive for people to eat more potatoes. I do not know why other people are eating fewer potatoes, but for myself I am just weary of floury, dusty, fall-apart in the water potatoes and I am tired of hard-as-rock salad potatoes. The struggle does not seem worth the eating.
21 September Monday
The Honey Fair was much as I expected. It was a grand event and it was a disappointment. The room it was held in was not large. There were four rows of things on display with three aisles for walking up and down and looking. The aisles were not wide but there were not too many people there anyway, so it was not difficult to walk up and down. The day was wet and windy which kept people away. The All-Ireland Final kept a lot of other people away. I am not certain that there would have been much overlap in the audiences.
In one corner of the room there were some women pouring tea and serving big platters of sandwiches and cakes. Nothing they were serving had anything to do with honey. There were tiered displays of honey in jars all up one side of the centre aisle and there were large flat cakes of wax, as well as candles and little decorative objects made of wax. There were bars of wax which had come out of moulds so that they had the words Bees Wax on them. All of the different categories had names of the winners noted on pieces of paper on the tables. All of the displays had signs saying Do Not Touch The Displays. There were bottles of mead and there was a long row of trophies along the edge of the stage at the far end of the room. One trophy was in the shape of a bee hive.
The judges were wearing long white lab coats with STBA (South Tipperary Beekeepers Association) logos at the pocket. Five of the judges were men and one was a woman. They walked about talking to people and pointing at things. Their white coats made them stand out and kept them looking very official. There were photographs of bees and beekeepers and of beehives out in fields. There were some live bees crawling around in a honeycomb safely behind glass. I had looked forward to seeing a lot of kinds and shapes of bee hives but there was only one hive on display and it looked flimsy and cheap. It did not look like it would last long in this wet climate. Still there was plenty to look at. Everything in the entire hall was presented with equal importance.
One category was honey cakes. There were many honey cakes on display for the competition. All of the honey cakes were round and all of the honey cakes were the same size. The color of the cakes varied from bright golden to deep brown. There were also honey cakes for sale. The tea ladies were not serving honey cakes. We bought one, which we ate with a cup of tea when we got home. It was very dry.